Sunday, May 31, 2015

Rustic Crusty French Bread - Fun, Funky & Fabulous

I'm not a big bread baker (not sweet enough for this cake loving gal), but I was intrigued by the simple Rustic Crusty French Bread recipe I found in my newest cookbook: Fun, Funky & Fabulous - New Orleans' Casual Restaurant Recipes.

He is the bread just coming out of the oven.  Doesn't it look fabulous.  (It does look a little overcooked, but hey, that is my trademark.)

The recipe has just four ingredients: flour, salt, yeast, and water.

And best of all the dough just takes a few minutes to mix with a wooden spoon.  No kneading, no bread hook, just stir it a few times and place it someplace warm to rise.  Easy-peasy.   But I have to admit that my first batch didn't turn out so fabulous.  The recipe calls for All-Purpose flour, but the AP flour I keep in the house is a soft flour (Martha White).  While the Martha White is great for tender cakes and cookies, it is not so good for bread.  The Martha White just doesn't have enough gluten to allow bread dough to get a good rise.  The second loaf, which was made with Gold Medal Bread Flour, came out much nicer.

The only bummer about the bread recipe is that you can't whip it up at the last minute.  Because after mixing you need to let it rise for at least 12 hours.  I usually make the dough at night, allow it to rise overnight, and bake it in the morning.

After rising, you form the dough into a ball and cut a hash pattern in the top.

Next it goes into a Dutch Oven.  I'm using this nifty Cast Aluminum Dutch Oven by CorningWare.  The pot is a little finicky to use (long list of do's and don'ts associated with the pot) but it works great and cleanup is a breeze.

With the cover on the Dutch Oven bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes. 

Then remove the cover and bake for another 20 minutes until golden brown.

Slice and enjoy.  But be aware, they call this stuff Rustic Crusty French Bread for a reason -- it is very, very, very crusty.  It is so crusty I had to use an electric knife to cut it into slices. But once sliced, the crust was crunch and chewy and oh-so delicious.

(Below is the first loaf I baked using the Martha White AP flour.  You can tell that it is much flatter than the Gold Medal Bread Flour used above. So the type and brand of flour do make a difference when baking bread.)


So if you are new to bread baking, or just want to try a new technique/recipe, then give this Simple Rustic Crusty French Bread a try.  It is really worth the time. 

Happy Baking,